The days of ‘getting picked on’
In our neighborhood, size had its advantages and disadvantages, and Bubba and I were the smallest in height but certainly not age. Back then, bullies were not heard of — it was just “getting picked on” by the bigger boys in our neighborhood.
Now, we were faster than any of them, and Bubba could outrun all of them. Our forts were strategically located with supplies of rocks and china balls stashed in each of them. We had one in the pipe that went under Ninth Street, in the swamp, several along the ditch bank behind Betty and Jane’s house, behind Bubba’s and down by Mr. Earl Keel’s home. Each fort was thought out well before building them.
But back to getting picked on!
At the time we were growing up, the Weatherlys lived on the corner of Tenth and Brown streets, and David was one of the bigger guys in the neighborhood. His dad had a sawmill in the backyard, and Bubba and I got scrap materials from Mr. Weatherly to build most of our forts, and, of course, we never asked for the materials. We thought that since he had material on the junk pile, it was alright to take them to be used.
Across the street from David lived Big Warren (Eddie) Everett, and he was plenty big and at least two years ahead of me and Bubba. Warren and David kind of figured out where our best fort was and decided to pay us back. Our best fort was behind Bubba’s house, and one day while we were relishing our fort, we saw the two coming on the side of Googie’s house on Telfair Street. They were trying to sneak up on us — they caught us in the fort and lifted the roof up and began throwing rocks down at us until we snuck out the back door and began to run. Well, we met them on the way back to their homes, laughing and having a big time about destroying our fort. We were waiting at Mr. Keel’s with sling shots loaded, and the battle was on. We started running before they could catch us but at least we got the big boys. We laugh about it now, but at that time it really was not funny.
The other big guy was Larry Picard, and Larry was taller than all of us. He took pride in tearing down the fort behind Lori and Lynn Alligood’s home next to Nicholson Street. Well, we could not let it get us down, so we had a plan. When Larry went inside for supper, we tied a rope from each end of his mother’s clothesline. We called him outside and began to run, and Larry followed suit on his bike. When we got to the rope we then jerked it up, and he never saw it until it threw him off his bike. Larry later moved out of our neighborhood and enrolled in the Bath school district, and I hope it was not because of Bubba and me.
They were good times, and when I ride by a ditch and think about the forts we built, I wonder if children in that neighborhood do it now? We used our imaginations, and that is something I do not think kids today use enough. They are inside playing video games or on their computers. We use to stay outside until after dark, shooting hoops or camping out with friends. Parents were not afraid of their children playing outside or riding their bikes to Main Street or to another neighborhood. Parents everywhere were on guard for others’ children, and their phones could be used at any time to call home and report where we were. There were no bullies or at least not the ones we speak of today!
They were the best of times with the best of friends and in the best of places, Washington, N.C! The Original Washington!
— Harold Jr.
Harold Robinson Jr. is a native of Washington.